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The Politics of Social Ecology
Janet Biehl

Black Rose Books

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The Politics of Social Ecology: Libertarian Municipalism

Janet Biehl


Best known for introducing the idea of ecology to the Left, and for first positing that a liberatory society would also have to be an ecological society, Murray Bookchin, over the course of several decades, developed the basic components of "libertarian municipalism" - how to create free cities. Written in short, to-the-point chapters, the book presents an introductory overview and sketches the historical and philosophical context in which these ideas are grounded. Substantial matieral on the practical question of creating and organizing a new municipal movement toward such democratic cities is included. Bookchin has generously provided the lengthy interview that makes up the last third of the book.

Janet Biehl lectures on history and social issues at the Institute for Social Ecology, Vermont. She is the author of Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin (Oxford University Press, 2015) and Finding Our Way (Black Rose Books, 1991) and the editor of many of Bookchin's works, in particular The Murray Bookchin Reader (Black Rose Books, 1999). She has also co-edited the newsletter, Green Perspectives, published by the Social Ecology Project in Vermont.

Murray Bookchin, Professor Emeritus at the School of Environmental Studies, Ramapo College, and the Director Emeritus of the Institute for Social Ecology, has authored more than a dozen books on urbanism, ecology, technology and philosophy and is a key radical thinker of our time.


  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Politics versus Statecraft
  • 3. The Historical City
  • 4. Municipal Democracy: Ancient and Medieval
  • 5. Municipal Democracy: Colonial and Revolutionary
  • 6. The State and Urbanization
  • 7. The Municipality
  • 8. Building a Movement
  • 9. Elections
  • 10. The Formation of Citizenship
  • 11. Localism and Interdependence
  • 12. Confederalism
  • 13. A Municipalized Economy
  • 14. Dual Power
  • 15. A Rational Society
  • 16. Today's Agenda
  • 17. Interview with Murray Bookchin
  • 18. Appendix: 1989 Electoral Program of the Burlington Greens
  • 19. For Further Reading

1998: 204 pages, index

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